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How parents can set aside time (and money) for self-care

What we'll cover

  • Why a smart splurge may help relieve stress

  • Tips for creating a self-care plan

  • Spending strategies for your next purchase

As a parent, you have an important role as a caregiver — which can sometimes mean you're caring for others more than you're looking after yourself. Here are some ideas on how to set aside time and money for yourself. You deserve it.

Spending money for happiness

The connection between money and happiness is hotly debated: Does spending really make you happier? Well, it's complicated. Putting your hard-earned dollars toward purchases that save you time is shown to increase your emotional wellbeing.

Overspending, on the other hand, can potentially lead to feelings of guilt, regret and anxiety. Even when a purchase feels good in the moment, if you haven't accounted for it in your monthly expenses , it could work against your mental wellness long-term. By creating a plan and using your time, energy and money strategically, you can work toward developing a balance that works for you and your family.

Make a self-care plan

Taking care of yourself looks different for everyone. Some people recharge with a cup of tea and a book while others might spend a night out with friends. When creating your self-care strategy, it can be useful to first step back and determine what matters most. Uncovering your money story could help you identify and clarify your core values.

I recommend writing at least 10 words or short phrases that describe your values – things like family, nature, time alone or adventure. Then, select three from your list to focus on as you select self-care activities that will help you feel fulfilled. Be authentically aggressive in your top three selection — you want to choose values that can guide your behavior in your everyday life.

Commit time to self-care

Some parents may say they're too busy for self-care. Think about everything you do in an average week — are there any pockets of time that could've been spent with more intention?

I find that time is very similar to money when thinking about return on joy. If how you spend time or money is not aligned with your values, it's easy to waste them on things that provide little joy or advance your goals in life. For me, being rooted in my values helps me say "no" to time commitments and financial decisions that are not in alignment with the life I want to have.

If you are still struggling to find time, start with more accessible self-care. Taking five minutes for meditation or a walk around the block can go a long way.

It can be tempting to splurge if you're stressed or bored, but it's important to stay focused on your priorities and spending plan.

Setting up a budget for self-care

When setting aside money for self-care, start by assessing your overall financial situation. Once you have a good sense of your overall spending as a family, look for areas where you can redirect or save money for your desired activities.

Curbing impulse spending

It can be tempting to splurge if you're stressed or bored, but it's important to stay focused on your priorities and adhere to your spending plan. If you're tempted to buy something, save it by bookmarking the page online, writing it down or taking a picture. Give yourself a few days to research the purchase and consider how it fits into your values.

Allocating funds for personal well-being

If you'd like to take your budgeting to the next step, you can formally set aside some money toward your self-care. You can use spending buckets , a feature of Ally Bank's Spending Account, to help track where your money is going. You can create a bucket for each of your essential expenses like your family's groceries or cell phone bill. By allocating funds ahead of time, you can more easily give yourself permission to indulge.

Strategies for those who prioritize others

Parents can struggle with prioritizing their own care — but focusing on your wellbeing doesn't mean that you're neglecting your family. Accepting that self-care is an important part of showing up for others can help you overcome any feelings of guilt. By setting aside some of your time and finances for your own relaxation, you're empowering yourself to show up for you and your family.

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